Indo-US nuclear deal voting on Sep 26

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Washington, Sep 26: Dr Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister met US President George W Bush at the White House on Thursday, Sep 25 evening for a working dinner. Meanwhile the US House of Representatives took a decision to postpone the voting on the US-India civil nuclear deal to Friday, Sep 26.

Reports say that Bush have told Manmohan that his administration is working hard to pass the nuke deal as early as possible and hoped that India would be satisfied with the final result. On his part Indian PM said the deal would be approved in a manner that satisfies both India and the US. He also said that when the 34-year-old restriction ends and history is written, Bush would find place in it.

"My historic meeting with US President in 2005 transformed India's relations with US," said PM. Even Bush praised Manmohan for his courage and leadership.

Meanwhile in the US House of Representatives, Howard Berman, the Democrat Senator who opposed the agreement in the present form moved a bill that made a controversial reference to Iran. After pressure from diplomats that reference was reomved.

However, there are other provisions in the bill over which India is unhappy. One major worry is a clause that says the 123 Agreement will be subject to the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, the Hyde Act and any other applicable US law. The two bills are different, which means a committee will have to meet and prepare a final bill.

Earlier on Thursday, Sep 25, US Ambassador to India David Mulford insisted that the signs were 'positive' for a Congressional approval for the Indo-US nuclear deal. He said that it was 'not impossible' that the agreement will get ratified by the end of the current session.

"There is reasonable prospect for action by the Congress," said the envoy, who received Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Andrews Air Force base in Washington. "I can't predict when the 123 Agreement would be cleared by the Congress. It is not impossible that the deal will get ratified by the end of the current session," the envoy said.

"So far, the signs have been positive. The very fact that the deal is moving forward in the Congress is a tribute to the US Congress despite its pre-occupation with the trillion-dollar financial bailout package," he added.

Mulford said that the United States had very high expectations from the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh not only with regard to the US-India civil nuclear deal, but also in the context of the overall relationship between the two countries.

"We will be following the developments in the Congress… We are not yet completed… that is in the hands of the Congress. At this stage it is impossible to predict whether it (the deal) will be passed or not. We are confident that it will be passed, we are reasonably positive, but can't say when. Only the US Congress knows. It is impossible to project with any certainty," said Mulford.

He reiterated that Thursday, Sep 25's meeting at the White House focused on all the other elements of US-India relations, including defence, security, education and health.


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